Search Results for 'fear of the lord'

How Does God Guide Us?

This is a repost from 2014:

How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | Reformation21 Blog

After all of that, I would slightly disagree with the idea that God only speaks from the outside, as the blog post above says, although maybe I’m taking that too literally. I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us from within when it comes to conviction of sin(s), God’s character, his love for us in Christ, and reminding us of what He’s taught us in the past (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to spiritual things we hadn’t realized before (Ephesians 1:18). Whenever we hear the Holy Spirit speak, we always need to confirm it with Scripture. Our hearts are too easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). We need to be saturated in Scripture in order to discern from within, and especially nowadays from without, what is true.

We’re Wealthier Than Solomon

In some ways, we’re better off than Solomon as far as material things go. Here are some quotes from Philip Graham Ryken in Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters.

Like Solomon, we have ample opportunity to indulge many sinful and selfish desires. In fact, maybe Solomon would envy us. Generally speaking, we live in better homes than he did, with better furniture and climate control. We dine at a larger buffet; when we go to the grocery store, we can buy almost anything we want, from anywhere in the world. We listen to a much wider variety of music.

King Solomon

I never thought of this before. What I have thought about is how our wealth can be bad for our spiritual health.

Although God gives wealth, wealth doesn’t automatically equal satisfaction. History shows this, but we so often ignore it.

The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
1 Samuel 2:7 NIV

Our possessions can never bring us lasting joy. The gifts that God gives us and the power to enjoy those gifts come separately. This is why having more money can never guarantee that we will find any enjoyment. Without God, we will still be discontent. It is only when we keep him at the center of our existence that we experience real joy in the gifts that God may give. The fear of the Lord is not just the beginning of knowledge; it is also the source of satisfaction.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 NIV

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life–this is indeed a gift from God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 NLT

If we were able to find lasting satisfaction in earthly pleasure, then we would never recognize our need for God. But satisfaction does not come in the pleasures themselves; it comes separately. Satisfaction only comes in God himself, so that our dissatisfaction may teach us to turn to him.

This is one of the main reasons why Ecclesiastes is in the Bible. It is here to convince us not to love the world or live for its pleasures. This message is not intended to discourage us or to make us any more depressed than we already are, but to drive us back to God. This is not all there is. There is also a God in Heaven, who has sent his Son to be our Savior. That Son resisted the pleasures of this life to fulfill the purposes of God for our salvation.

Also see:
1 Timothy 6:17 and the "Rich" | Scripture Zealot blog

Image is from: Free Bible images: King Solomon builds the temple that King David had planned. (I Kings 5 – 9, II Chronicles 2 – 7). I know it’s corny, but images in posts are supposed to give the viewer a better experience. There also isn’t a blank space in the posts on Twitter and Facebook.

What Is Biblical Wisdom?

It may not be what many of us thought.

I was reviewing memorized Scripture and noticed parts of these two:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1:5-8

What I would think is this is the type of thing where somebody asks you about something and you answer that you’ll pray about it and ask God for wisdom. Not that I believe that God whispers in our ear and tells us what to do, but he guides us and reminds us of Scripture that may help. Which he does…

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:17

This is a much different portrayal of wisdom than the scenario I wrote above. We often ask for wisdom and don’t get it. We’re sometimes asking for the wrong thing or expecting God to tell us what he doesn’t usually reveal to us. Biblical wisdom isn’t necessarily about making the right decisions or being able to answer people’s important life questions, although it could indirectly lead to that in some cases. Biblical wisdom is something that God promises to give to everyone. This is his will for believers.

I recently read Knowing Scripture and remembered a quote in there that really struck me as I was also pondering how James and other inspired writers portray wisdom. I’m now reading Communion With God and just read something about wisdom in that book. And I have a saved quote from a commentary on Job that I read a year or two ago (which is very good) that describe these things much better than I can.

Sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim 3:15). Paul refers to the Scripture’s ability to give wisdom. When the Bible speaks of wisdom, it refers to a special kind of wisdom. The term is not used to connote an ability to be “worldly wise” or to have the cleverness necessary to write a Poor Richard’s Almanack. In biblical terms, wisdom has to do with the practical matter of learning how to live a life that is pleasing to God. A cursory glance at the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament makes this emphasis abundantly clear. Proverbs, for example, tells us that wisdom begins with the “fear of the LORD” (Prov 1:7; 9:10). That fear is not a servile fear but a posture of awe and reverence, which is necessary for authentic godliness. The Old Testament distinguishes between wisdom and knowledge. We are commanded to acquire knowledge, but more to acquire wisdom. Knowledge is necessary if wisdom is to be gained, but it is not identical with wisdom. A person can have knowledge without having wisdom, but he or she cannot have wisdom without having knowledge. A person without knowledge is ignorant. A person without wisdom is deemed a fool. In biblical terms foolishness is a moral matter and receives the judgment of God. Wisdom in the highest sense is being wise with respect to salvation. Thus wisdom is a theological matter. Paul is saying that through the Scriptures we can acquire that kind of wisdom that concerns our ultimate fulfillment and destiny as human beings.

–R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

The path of wisdom, godlikeness, and holiness would rely on Scripture for guidance without necessarily looking to specific texts to lay down hard and fast rules (though it occasionally might and we dare not neglect them when it does). Wisdom brings order to life and relationships, and the wise take God seriously. Wisdom derives from biblical values, but it is not necessarily bound to Israelite culture. Holiness recognizes that aspects of our behavior will sharply distinguish us from those around us. God’s holiness is embodied in his distinguishing attributes; we exhibit holiness by reflecting God’s communicable attributes (e.g., by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit). We can build ideas about godlikeness around the biblical text’s portrayal of God.

–John Walton, Job (NIVAC)

What Biblical wisdom is:

The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads: (1) The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties. (2) The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God concerning us. (3) Skill to walk in communion with God.

–John Owen, Communion With God

What Biblical wisdom is not:

There are two things that might seem to have some color in claiming a title and interest in this business: (1) civil wisdom and prudence, for the management of affairs; (2) ability of learning and literature—but God rejects both these, as of no use at all to the end and intent of true wisdom indeed. There is in the world that which is called “understand— ing,” but it comes to nothing. There is that which is called “wisdom,” but it is turned into folly, “God brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent, and makes foolish this wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1:19-20). And if there be neither wisdom nor knowledge (as doubt— less there is not) without the knowledge of God (Jet. 829), it is all shut up in the Lord Jesus Christ: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him” (John 1:18).

–John Owen, Communion With God

These are things I love to learn about. It’s great to be corrected by God through his Word because he’s speaking to us. When God speaks, it’s always, always about simple, practical, spiritual things that matter the most.

I’ve often thought that when I’m old(er), I would like to be a wise man without knowing or thinking that I am. I’m now much farther away from that ideal than I thought. It’s a great subject to explore. I’m oftentimes embarrassed that I don’t realize many of these things that seem to be so plain sooner than I do. It shows that “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) And his timing can be peculiar.

Knowledge and God’s Glory

The better we know God, the more we can glorify him. In another part of the book Edwards writes that this will make us happy, which glorifies God. Or happier, or less unhappy–whatever your circumstance may be. As far as I can see, God expresses this chiefly through Scripture, then the Holy Spirit in various ways, His mighty acts–including the marvelous work on the cross and what he does in our lives, and creation. I’ve included Scripture below that I think applies.

Again, the word glory, as applied to God in Scripture, implies the view or knowledge of God’s excellency. The exhibition of glory is to the view of beholders. The manifestation of glory, the emanation or effulgence of brightness, has relation to the eye. Light or brightness is a quality that has relation to the sense of seeing; we see the luminary by its light. And knowledge is often expressed in Scripture by light. The word glory very often in Scripture signifies, or implies, honor, as any one may soon see by casting his eye on a concordance. But honor implies the knowledge of the dignity and excellency of him who hath the honor; and this is often more especially signified by the word glory, when applied to God. Numbers 14:21: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,” i.e. all the inhabitants of the earth shall see the manifestations I will make of my perfect holiness and hatred of sin, and so of my infinite excellence.

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6 HCSB

The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks it.
Proverbs 18:15

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.
Romans 14:11

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
Ephesians 1:17-23

Quotes of the Day: God’s Guidance

See my comment at the bottom.

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | Reformation21 Blog – this book that he’s quoting from is a book I read and will be drawing upon for my upcoming posts on Christian Sayings

After all of that, I would slightly disagree with the idea that God only speaks from the outside, as the blog post above says, although maybe I’m taking that too literally. I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us from within when it comes to conviction of sin(s), and reminding us of what He’s taught us in the past (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit can also open our eyes to spiritual things we hadn’t realized before (Ephesians 1:18), but none of this is ever new revelation that hasn’t been addressed in Scripture. Whenever we hear the Holy Spirit speak, we always need to confirm it with Scripture. Our hearts are too easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). We need to be saturated in Scripture in order to discern from within, and especially nowadays from without, what is true. The danger is when people are too lazy to spend time in Scripture and then expect God to tell them what to do, and believe just about everything they see and read on the internet. Can people be internet Bereans by using Snopes, getting other opinions, and checking sources? I don’t know about that, but the lack of discernment in more minor areas is frightening when you think about what lack there is for major areas, especially since we are in the end times, and as we need to be ready for Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3).

I realize that most regular readers already know about and agree with some of these things I’ve been writing about. Instead of just complaining about them, I want to do something about it. There are often people who come here from search engines who might benefit from the curmudgeonly posts; that is if they’re not offended, or disagree.

Seek

But if you look for the LORD your God when you are among those nations, you will find him whenever you search for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Those who know your name trust you, O LORD,
because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
Psalm 9:10

Young lions go hungry and may starve,
but those who seek the LORD’s help
have all the good things they need.
11 Come, children, listen to me.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you wants a full life?
Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from saying evil things
and your lips from speaking deceitful things.
14 Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it!
15 The LORD’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help.
16 The LORD confronts those who do evil
in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth.
17 Righteous people cry out.
The LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person has many troubles,
but the LORD rescues him from all of them.
20 The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil will kill wicked people,
and those who hate righteous people will be condemned.
22 The LORD protects the souls of his servants.
All who take refuge in him will never be condemned.
Psalm 34:10-22

My son, if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
2 if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
3 if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
4 if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.
6 The LORD gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

I love those who love me.
Those eagerly looking for me [wisdom] will find me.
Proverbs 8:17

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “If your child asks you for bread, would any of you give him a stone? 10 Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:7-11

Obviously, so many more could be included.

I was going to only use OT passages, but I couldn’t leave out the last one. I have to remember that if we ask for spiritual things that we know are God’s will according to Scripture, he will give them to us in his time. If we ask for a new car, maybe, probably not.

Be a Zealous Christian!

Here is an article (below) that goes perfectly with this blog, for obvious reasons. The article is from the perspective of the Puritans. Little did I know when I first created it who the Puritans are–possibly being one of the most misunderstood people groups–and how much I would come to like them. I’ve also always liked the terms pious, and religious/religion (even used in book titles like Institutes of the Christian Religion–yes, Christianity is a religion and Christians are religious people, as Jesus was when here on earth), very often mentioned by the Puritans, which have practically become dirty words. Also, the beloved concept of the fear of the Lord, which often seems to need to be qualified. We don’t hear the term God fearing people much anymore.

We know God and hear from God through Scripture, and in learning of His love for us, grow to love Him more, and want to please and be obedient to Him. This becomes an ever growing cycle, and there have been times when I almost can’t stand it.

Enough of my curmudgeonly rant. If you have time to read it, I hope you enjoy the article and find it informative, as I did.

Be a Zealous Christian! | Challies Dot Com

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

Behavior, Holiness and Wisdom in Job

For being a more basic commentary on Job, this has some deeper things in it, some much more than this. Walton also writes about wisdom in general along with Bible interpretation which makes the commentary all the more valuable.

Because we tend to see God’s requirements in the Bible as “rules,” we rationalize giving ourselves permission to do what it does not explicitly forbid. If we conclude that the Bible does not specifically speak against certain sorts of sexual behavior, against the activities we enjoy (but have been told are not spiritual), against the movies we want to watch, against the language we enjoy using, against the way we dress, and so on, we feel free to indulge ourselves with free conscience: “The Bible doesn’t say I can’t.” We may take comfort in all of the dastardly offenses we have not committed and decide that we are “good enough.” After all, we are not disobeying the Bible.

This is minimalism in its mature and virulent form. For instance, the Bible says nothing about drug abuse. Some might respond by pulling out a biblical injunction to respect your body, but that is the wrong approach, because it still assumes that we have to dredge up a biblical prohibition or command to regulate every aspect of our behavior. Attempts to explicate all the mandates of Scripture are criticized (truly enough at times) as illegitimate proof-texting that employs questionable hermeneutics and fails to consider cultural context. Let us consider briefly some of the ways that people seek behavioral guidance from the Bible.

Wisdom. Wisdom literature such as that found in the book of Proverbs provides many important guidelines for behavior. Two problems, however, must be noted. (1) The literature contains a combination of guidelines that could be considered universal and those that are more cultural. (2) The coverage of the material is spotty. The literature gives us examples of how we can order our lives based on the fear of the Lord, but it is far from comprehensive, systematic, or programmatic.

What does God want from us? How do we draw parameters without imposing potentially arbitrary rules? How does one develop biblical standards if the Bible does not yield specific information through role models, the law, or exhortations in the Proverbs or New Testament letters? Consider these ten principles:
1. We should conscientiously pursue wisdom (in its Old Testament sense), godlikeness, and holiness.
2. Beyond what is clearly stated in revelation, we should not presume to draw parameters for others (e.g., for what constitutes modesty, humility, appropriate entertainment), only for ourselves; these should reflect our goal (holiness) rather than the lowest common denominator that we can rationalize.
3. The boundaries may differ from culture to culture and perhaps from person to person, but there must be carefully thought-out parameters that reflect our desire for holiness.
4. We should not impose our boundaries on others, though we could hold them accountable to their own boundaries and challenge them to aim higher.
5. There must be discernable differences between Christian be havior and the world’s behavior (Rom. 12:1 – 2).
6. We should not concede either to self-righteousness or to self-indulgence.
7. We should understand that God does not need what we give; our behavior can please him but does not benefit him.
8. Our behavior should not be motivated by expectation of material rewards [as with Job]; further, our behavior cannot save us.
9. We should aspire to be godlike, not just to keep rules (which inherently only lead us in the right direction).
10. Obedience is expected but represents the minimal level of godliness.

The path of wisdom, godlikeness, and holiness would rely on Scripture for guidance without necessarily looking to specific texts to lay down hard and fast rules (though it occasionally might and we dare not neglect them when it does). Wisdom brings order to life and relationships, and the wise take God seriously. Wisdom derives from biblical values, but it is not necessarily bound to Israelite culture. Holiness recognizes that aspects of our behavior will sharply distinguish us from those around us. God’s holiness is embodied in his distinguishing attributes; we exhibit holiness by reflecting God’s communicable attributes (e.g., by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit). We can build ideas about godlikeness around the biblical text’s portrayal of God. Obedience is important, but our end responsibility is to strive to be like God. Disobedience will impede us from reaching this goal, but obedience alone will not necessarily achieve it.

Ideally, we should aspire to holiness, not because of benefits we can gain as a result, but because God is God and our righteous behavior is one of the ways we honor him. Regardless of whether we experience any advantages in life because of these decisions, we choose this path because of who God is.

–John H. Walton, Job (The NIV Application Commentary)

Want, Ask, Seek, Wait, Find

How do we go about ‘getting’ something we want that’s spiritual and in God’s will? I never thought I’d write a post about ‘steps’ to get something or somewhere or ‘XX’ reasons for… which I generally don’t like, but that’s what this post will end up being.

I believe that Proverbs 2:1-6 is a model for this. Since it’s about knowledge (Col 1:9-10) and wisdom (Prov 9:10, 1 Cor 2:6-7, Eph 1:17) we’ll use that example. We know that God wants us to acquire spiritual knowledge and wisdom and he will give it to us. Although I don’t mean to say that God “helps those who help themselves”, he’s not usually going to give it to us if we don’t want to receive it, don’t ask for it, or don’t care or bother to look for it (Matt 7:7).

If you don’t want something but want to want it, pray for that. (It almost sounds like humorous, or circular thinking, but really.) If it’s difficult to pray for, ask God to give you a spirit of supplication (Zech 12:10).

Proverbs 2:1-6
My son,if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,

Take what it is that God wants you to do seriously and put a high value on it.

2 if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,

We need to look for wisdom and focus on understanding it.

3 if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,

We need to earnestly ask God for it.

4 if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,

We need to both put a very high value on it and search for it as if it were something that’s hard to find, but so worth it if we do. If you had a million dollars hidden in your house somewhere, wouldn’t you tear it up to find it?

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and you will find the knowledge of God.

That’s what we need to do. But this may not come right away. We may need to do these things for weeks, months, years or even decades and wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

6 The Lord gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

One more thing. This comes from God. We need to strive, but it won’t come because of our striving or our own intellect. We need to seek with humility.

I think this can be a model for obtaining many things that we know are God’s will–as prescribed in Scripture (Psalm 37:4). I have seen this happen again and again the last few years regarding things in my life and persistence in prayer for others. It never stops amazing me. It’s important that we remember that this is for things that we know God’s want us to have, spiritual things, not things that are material which may or may not be his will for us and with good motives (James 4:3). He “lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17b) but not anything we want. Comparing our prayers to Paul’s is very helpful in this regard.

~Jeff

Quotes of the Day: Happy Worship

What then does it mean today to resolve to know nothing… except Jesus Christ and him crucified? More narrowly, what elements in our ministries need overhauling when judged by this standard? For this commitment must not only shape our message but our style.

We have become so performance- oriented that it is hard to see how compromised we are. Consider one small example. In many of our churches, prayers in morning services now function, in large measure, as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people of the congregation bow their heads and close their eyes, and when they look up a minute later, why, the singers are in place, or the drama group is ready to perform. It is all so smooth. It is also profane. Nominally we are in prayer together addressing the King of heaven, the sovereign Lord. In reality, some of us are doing that while others are rushing on tiptoes around the stage and others, with their eyes closed, are busy wondering what new and happy configuration will confront them when it is time to take a peek.

Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us than the fear of the Lord? Has polish, one of the modern equivalents of ancient rhetoric, displaced substance? Have professional competence and smooth showmanship become more valuable than sober reckoning over what it means to focus on Christ crucified?

–D. A. Carson

Unlike the psalmist himself, we cannot sing the laments. Even when they use the psalms, our contemporary praise choruses pick out the upbeat notes but don’t know what to do with that blue note.

In contemporary piety and worship, discordant keys are not allowed; just keep it happy. Our public worship today is a fatal index of the fact that we do not know what to do in the presence of a God who is not only our friend but also our judge. We do not know what to do with sin, evil, and death in this culture, but by suppressing the question we deprive people of the comfort that comes from the answer.

–Michael Horton, A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering

I have tried these thirty-two-and-a-half years to lead the staff and the elders and you in the experience of sorrowful yet always rejoicing. I turn with dismay from church services that are treated like radio talk shows where everything sounds like chipper, frisky, high-spirited chatter designed to make people feel lighthearted and playful and bouncy. I look at those services and say to myself: Don’t you know that people are sitting out there who are dying of cancer, whose marriage is a living hell, whose children have broken their hearts, who are barely making it financially, who have just lost their job, who are lonely and frightened and misunderstood and depressed? And you are going to try to create an atmosphere of bouncy, chipper, frisky, light-hearted, playful worship?

And, of course, there will be those who hear me say that and say: O, so you think what those people need is a morose, gloomy, sullen, dark, heavy atmosphere of solemnity?

No. What they need is to see and feel indomitable joy in Jesus in the midst of suffering and sorrow. “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” They need to taste that these church people are not playing games here. They are not using religion as a platform for the same-old, hyped-up self-help that the world offers every day. They need the greatness and the grandeur of God over their heads like galaxies of hope. They need the unfathomable crucified and risen Christ embracing them in love with blood all over his face and hands. And they need the thousand-mile-deep rock of God’s word under their feet.

John Piper, Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing – Desiring God

Quotes of the Day: Calvin and Augustine on Mystery

If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased. But if you proceed farther to ask why he pleased, you ask for something greater and more sublime than the will of God, and nothing such can be found. Let human temerity then be quiet, and cease to inquire after what exists not, lest perhaps it fails to find what does exist. This, I say, will be sufficient to restrain any one who would reverently contemplate the secret things of God.

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Many say that Calvinists put God in a box (whatever that silly phrase means). But little do they realize how much mystery Calvinists (should) embrace.

You a man expect an answer from me: I also am a man. Wherefore, let us both listen to him who says, ‘O man, who art thou?’ Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find nought but punishment. O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the height. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height; I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest, because he found wonder. He calls the judgments of God ‘unsearchable;’ and have you come to search them? He says that his ways are ‘past finding out,’ and do you seek to find them out?

–Augustine (August. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 20)

Sometimes we need to let things go and not try to intellectualize every little thing. Otherwise, I believe it’s great to grow more and more in knowledge and wisdom as God teaches us, and know what we believe, from Scripture and others whom God has gifted to help us.

My heart is not proud,
Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. Israel,
put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
Psalm 131

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

Verse of the Day: Psalm 119:120

With a bonus – Unusual translation of the day:

Psalm 119:120 REB
The dread of you makes my flesh creep;
I stand in awe of your decrees.

My flesh hath trembled for fear of thee. [1] At first sight the prophet seems to contradict himself. He had just now said, that, by Godメs severity, he was gently drawn to love his testimonies; now he declares, that he was seized with terror. But although these two effects differ widely from each other, yet, if we consider by what kind of discipline God forms us to reverence his law, we will perceive that they entirely harmonize. We require to be subdued by fear that we may desire and seek after the favor of God. Since fear, then, is the beginning of love, the prophet testifies, that he was awakened by a heart-felt fear of God to look well to himself. Nor is the mortification of the flesh so easy a matter, as that every one should consent to enter upon it, without the constraint of violent means; and, therefore, it is not wonderful if God struck his servant with terror, that, in this way, he might bend his mind to a holy fear of him. It is an evidence of no common wisdom to tremble before God when he executes his judgments, of which the majority of mankind take no notice. We are then taught by these words of the prophet, that we ought to consider attentively the judgments of God, that they may not only gently instruct us, but that they may also strike us with such terror as will lead us to true repentance.

[1] The verb rmo, samar, rendered hath trembled, denotes being seized with horror, so that the hair stands on end. It occurs in Piel in Job 4:15. This state of horror was produced on the mind of the Psalmist by a contemplation of the divine judgments executed on the wicked, who are rejected like dross; and he was thus brought to fear God.

–John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries

The Fear of the Lord is a subject of interest of mine. Also see:

Changes of Style Within a Bible Translation

When I have the time and energy, I have some posts coming of my own on the more substantial side.

Here is something from Dave Black Online on Sunday, January 23. This topic of different English styles (or register as I’ve read it) has been floating around. After that I have a question of my own regarding the REB.

8:24 AM Is the style of a New Testament document inspired? If so, do different styles in the Greek New Testament require different styles of translation into English? For example, as I translate through Mark I find certain passages to be anything but lackluster in terms of rhetorical style. Any account of poetic effectiveness or literariness must, I should think, influence the way we translate the Gospel in terms of impact and appeal on the audience. After all, style is information.

In the ISV New Testament an attempt was made to produce in sonorous and poetic English at least certain portions of the New Testament (the Christ hymns or the 5 “faithful sayings,” for example) — that is, passages whose literary quality is unquestioned. (Liars ever/men of Crete/savage brutes/that live to eat.) In doing so, I discovered that producing a literary translation is not simple. It will be interesting to see whether there is a ready and willing receptor constituency that will appreciative such an approach when the ISV is published later this year.

But back to my question: Admitting that there is always some loss in translating from language to another, should Bible translators pay greater attention to the rhetorical techniques in Hebrew and Greek? After all, in poetic language, all of the possibilities of language are exploited to communicate meaning.

I think this is one of the things that makes the REB so impressive.
My question: Is the REB static as far as its literary quality and style or does it change with the original language(s)?

As to Dave Black’s question, from a complete amateur, I would love to see translators pay more attention to rhetorical techniques. But I think in order for it to be worth it, it would have to be pretty noticeable to most readers.

God’s Word translation does a good job as far as form with poetry by using a single column format so that parallel lines can be lined up, for lack of a better term, which helps in visualizing that aspect. I don’t know if that’s something that has anything to do with what the original writer would have done if the language permitted it, but it’s helpful for me. It will be interesting to see how the ISV handles this in the Old Testament. A Microsoft Office version of the ISV can be found on their Downloads page.

I’ve done my best to replicate the form of two of the translations mentioned above except for verse numbers, which would have complicated it with GW. Hopefully the CSS will render the same in all browsers. It looks fine in FF, MSIE and Opera on my system.

Proverbs 2:1-5 ISV
My son, if you accept my words,
and treasure my instructions1—
making your ear attentive to wisdom,
and turning your heart to understanding—
if, indeed, you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and learn to know God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 GW
My son,
if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs: The Value of Wisdom

Proverbs 2:1-6
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

As mentioned in a previous post, we are to pray earnestly for wisdom. We are also to value it more than any material thing. I think “value” is very important. It’s not just choosing it because we are committed to Christ and that’s what we’re supposed to choose or want, but it’s genuinely and wholeheartedly valuing it, wanting it more than anything else. If you went to a store and there was a certificate for wisdom and a check made out to you for a million dollars (or your currency of choice), with no strings attached, you’d easily want wisdom if you had to choose, as Solomon did. A million dollars would be great too, but wisdom would be valued even more and brings us eternally and infinitely greater returns. It improves our life indescribably more than material wealth. (Proverbs 3:13-18) Not many of us would naturally want some wisdom more than a million dollars. We need to pray for it zealously.

I can’t tell you how much different it is to study Proverbs when you really want wisdom than when you’re just studying a book of the Bible and learning some things about how to live better. It’s almost painful, but in a positive, yearning way. It also makes someone realize how little they know. It may take years or even decades of praying depending on God’s timing. If you don’t have it yet, it is God’s will so you know He will answer yes.

Proverbs 9:10 HCSB
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Psalm 19:9-10
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are reliable
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more desirable than gold–
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey–
than honey dripping from the comb.

1 John 5:14
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Also see:

Proverbs: Reading and Understanding Proverbs

Proverbs 1:5-6 HCSB
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance–
for understanding a proverb or a parable,
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

A few more things I’ve learned about Proverbs.

  1. Like all of the Bible, one can never stop learning. Proverbs were written for youths but also for those who are already wise. (I wonder how many youth pastors teach Proverbs?)
  2. All of Proverbs needs to be read to have a good understanding even of those that seem to “stand alone”.
  3. Learning the book of Proverbs can help us understand other parts of the Bible that are ‘non-literal’ like the parables of Jesus etc. This is very intriguing.

Regarding #2, I think the best example in Proverbs happen to be two that are right next to each other.

Proverbs 26:4-5
Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness,
or you’ll be like him yourself.
5 Answer a fool according to his foolishness,
or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.

Many others are spread out. Of course reading the discourse sections many times over is valuable too. Now I understand why Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan goes through Proverbs 12 times a year and why many people read one chapter a day all the time. I think if people want to pull one verse out and put it on a plaque and live by it they should understand it within the context of the whole book. I used to think that most proverbs can stand by themselves but now I know better, not to mention realizing they’re proverbs and not hard and fast promises. Myself and others have been very disappointed because of not realizing this.

My favorite New Testament example of Scripture interpreting or qualifying other Scripture is:

Matthew 21:22 HCSB
And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

1 John 5:14
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (emphasis added)

And include

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

for good measure.

For now as I study Proverbs for our small group I plan on going straight through the study guide and I read Waltke’s commentary after I’m done answering the questions for each chapter of the study and doing any other stuff. I’ll read two chapters of Proverbs a day throughout.

As an aside, God is really working in me. Since back surgery, life has been even more difficult than normal. My faith has been tested for the first time in a long time, depression, anxiety, sleep, pain and accepting what my life has become has been much more difficult.

However, God has given me such enthusiasm for studying Proverbs, I want to learn everything I can. God has given me the attitude of what’s described in Proverbs 2 (below). This is obviously God’s doing. And God has been working in my wife so that she has become more supportive as time goes on and loves me for reasons I can’t understand.

I hate my life but love God and my wife. I hope things can get better someday but these circumstances drive me to take refuge in God. I don’t like it but I need to accept it. If you’d like to pray for me, even once, that’s what I need most right now.

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
3 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and discover the knowledge of God.

Also see: